Death from Behind (DFB)

The purpose of the Death from Behind lesson, “DFB” for short, is to learn how to safely “kill” an opponent from behind.

For Teachers

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The Death from Behind technique is one of the few techniques that we require specific training on before anyone is allowed to perform a DFB.

It is incredibly important that DFB’s are performed safely and correctly because you are attacking someone when they are most vulnerable. If you ever feel worried or unsure about performing a DFB, don’t perform a DFB!

Death from Behind (DFB)

Death from Behind, or DFB for short, is the only technique that will allow you to safely kill someone from behind. No one is allowed to perform a DFB until they’ve been properly trained on it. It’s important to master this technique before performing it due to the increased risk of injury.

Even if you have been trained on proper DFB you should never perform a DFB if you’re uncomfortable with it, in any way. We want this to be safe and attacking from the rear leaves an unknowing person vulnerable to spine, neck, and head injury. This is serious matter and should never be taken lightly.

Proper DFB

DFB’s are not always allowed in every melee. Double check during the explanation of the scenario if you’re unsure. If a melee allows Death from Behind, a fencer does so by laying the rapier blade over the opponent’s shoulder, to at least a third of the blade, while calling “My lord (or lady), you’re dead from behind” in a loud, clear voice. Reaching around the neck is forbidden. The opponent will be deemed “killed” from the instant the blade touches his shoulder and shall not attempt to spin, duck or dodge away.

It’s also a good practice to gently put your hand up to their back in case they are startled by the kill and jump backwards. It’s a precaution.

Proper Things in a DFB

Here are some of the things you should always do in a DFB:

  • Keep your sword up: When nearing someone else from behind, we should always have our sword pointed up, away from their back. We don’t want to risk striking their spine. Never have your sword down when you’re getting ready to perform a DFB.
  • Walk into a DFB: Move slowly and carefully as your near your target. Never run to get a DFB. If you have to run to place your sword on their shoulder, then DFB isn’t an option to consider.
  • Point your quillons away from your opponent: You want to keep your point in the air and your quillons pointed out to the sides. If they are pointed toward your opponent’s back there is a danger they could jump back into them.
  • Only DFB a stationary opponent: If they are relatively still and calm, than they are a good target for a DFB. If they are jumping around wildly and never stay in the same place for more than a moment, they are a bad target.
  • Use only a single blade in a DFB: Even if you have two blades or sword and dagger, you can only ever perform one DFB with one blade at a time. That means that we don’t lay a blade on each shoulder of one person. Nor do we use both of our blades to DFB two people standing next to each other.
  • Stay behind your opponent: When performing a DFB, remain behind your opponent until the DFB is completed. We never reach around their neck to perform a draw cut.

Receiving a DFB

Once the blade has touched your shoulder, you should consider yourself dead. You should also restrain your reaction to spin around and defend yourself. Even if you spin around to defend yourself before they lay the sword on your shoulder, consider yourself dead for honor’s sake.


When you’re dead or are in the process of going to the Rez point, the dead shouldn’t talk. But you are allowed to make a death cry as your opponent kills you. For this reason, we use the word ‘BBQ’ as a universal term meaning “I was just killed from behind, watch out!” Use it to let your teammates know what just happened.

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How to teach

Death from Behind (DFB)


Use the following EDGE Method lesson summary to guide you along.


Explain the following principles of a DFB and why it’s important to follow. Emphasize that a DFB should only be performed when it can be done properly and safely. If you are ever unsure, don’t do a DFB.

  • What a Proper DFB is
  • Keep your sword up
  • Walk into a DFB
  • Point your quillons away
  • Only DFB stationary opponents
  • Only use a single blade
  • Stay behind your opponent
  • How to receive a DFB
  • Barbecue


Demonstrate the process of performing a proper DFB on a co-teaching Swordsman. Allow everyone to see what it looks like and how to follow each of the safety principles.


After demonstrating, pair students off and allow them to practice performing a DFB on each other as you guide them through the process. Remind them of the principles that should follow and what to do if they are not comfortable performing a DFB.


At this stage, each Initiate should be able to perform a proper DFB safely on their own. Run through the following drill or challenge before finishing:

Death from Behind Drill

Have each of the students line up, side by side, facing the same direction. One at a time, have each student walk behind the line and slowly perform a proper DFB on each other student. Once they have gone through the line, have them rejoin the line and allow the next student to repeat the process.

Death from Behind Challenge (Sharking)

As a group, divide into lines and form a basic line. Select one student on each line to become a Shark. The two lines will then proceed to participate in a mock line fight. They will go through the motions without taking any deaths or trying to really kill anyone. During the mock line fight, each Shark will try to perform a DFB on a member of their team. When the DFB is perform, the Shark will switch places and join the line while the other student will become the Shark. Repeat until every student has had multiple opportunities to perform a DFB.